Half Way Across the World: New Zealand

            During the summer of 2012, I took a 4 week trip to New Zealand through the Lions Youth Exchange Program. This program entails spending 5 weeks in a different country where you spend 2 weeks living with a family, another 2 weeks with another family, and a final week at a camp for all the international exchange students at that country. However, my experience was different because during our summer here in the United States it is New Zealand’s winter so during the time of my trip, the camp was closed. To make up for the camp being closed, for my trip I stayed 4 weeks with 5 different families with nearly all of them from different parts of New Zealand. So for my trip I stayed in Nelson, Blenheim, Wanganui, and Te Puke.

 During my first week I stayed with a family of 4 who lived in an old building right next to a church in Nelson. I later found out that the house was actually used in the past to house the church officials. The family staying there was renting the 6 bedroom house and letting others stay there as well as long as they helped with the rent. Of the others staying there I met a man from India and 3 students from Japan. They showed me some of their culture by cooking certain foods such as curry which, in my opinion, was delicious even though it was very spicy. Outside of their home, my host family took me to many different places.

A market where I was able to experience a mixture of different cultures.

A market where I was able to experience a mixture of different cultures.

 I was able to experience a town flea market which had many different cultures mixed in such as Italian, Maori (the original people of New Zealand), British, and a few others. I was also taken to see the very center of New Zealand (although due to earthquakes it is no longer 100 percent accurate), salmon fishing, a museum and a mock town of the very beginning of Nelson (Founders Heritage Park), The World of Wearable Art, and a famous glass blowing shop. I saw so many things and saw so much so much history while staying in Nelson. However, my trip had only begun.

The next week, after some tearful goodbyes with my Nelson family, I moved on to Blenheim where I stayed with 2 different families for 3 days each. On my first day in Blenheim I went out to the nearby ocean and saw a rock named Rarangi Millennium Rock that has two holes to look through. I was told that when looking through the up most hole on New Years, I would see the exact spot where the sun would rise.

A few of the baby seals leaving the cove.

A few of the baby seals leaving the cove.

Later on I was also taken to a wonderful chocolate factory, beautiful mountains to go play in the snow, had a tour of a small hospital, played in a bag mitten match, went to a large salt factory, and toured the guide tour for planes at an airport. But I think my most memorable part of this week was going to a small cove where every year baby seals come to safely play.

  My next spot to travel to was Wanganui where I stayed with an older couple out on their farm. However, my days, when we were not rained in, were mostly taking place in the city. In the city I went to the river to travel on the Waimarie (a river boat that had been restored after being found washed up on the river bank after a terrible storm), a large park that was easily a child’s paradise, an army museum, and Gravity Canyon. I had to most fun at Gravity Canyon where I glided through the canyon on the Flying Fox (similar to zip lining).

Finally, for my last week in New Zealand, I had to take an 8 hour bus ride from Wanganui (bottom of the north island) to Auckland (near the top of the north island).

Some of the beautiful landscape I passed by while in New Zealnd.

Some of the beautiful landscape I passed by while in New Zealand.

 While on the bus, I passed many beautiful landscapes such as rivers, mountains, plains, and rolling hills. And when I finally reached Auckland, I was then transferred to Te Puke, the kiwi capital of the world. While in Te Puke, I learned more in-depth detail about the Maori culture and past, saw many natural hot springs, and toured a kiwi distribution factory. For the Maori culture, I learned mostly about some folk-lore, the parts some of them played in World War II, and  some of their traditions.

This trip showed me so many different things about the culture and daily lives of the people in New Zealand. I experienced and saw so much but I know that there is so much more in the world. Currently New Zealand has very little heritage sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List but from what I saw, I would expect there to be plenty more. There were so many beautiful landscapes and cultural revolving places that it surprises me that they are not recognized as heritage sites.

Some of the beautiful designs created by glass blowing.

Some of the beautiful designs created by glass blowing.

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About leannstephens

Hiya, as you may already know my name is Leann. Well I love to read books and play sports/video games. But what I am best at is math and science. I am currently in college to study chemical engineering.
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7 Responses to Half Way Across the World: New Zealand

  1. apalos17 says:

    Wow! Being able to travel multiple areas in New Zealand must have been an amazing experience! Have you used some of the experiences you learned at your home? Do you plan to go back again?

    • Traveling New Zealand is an experience I will never forget. I was able to share the lives of my host families and see a new world where there are so many similarities and differences to the one I have here in California. I learned to appreciate my past and my heritage as well as other’s because when I talked with my host families, we shared our stories and experiences with eachother. On a lighter note, I also learned about some recipes, Geocaching, kiwis the animal and the fruit (I didn’t know there was a green and a gold kiwi fruit, which are delicious by the way), and found a bit of a daring side in me (if you looked at the link for Gravity Canyon you’ll understand). Also, I am still in contact with some of my host families so for me they are like an extended family. I do plan on going back some day to experience more of New Zealand and to visit my New Zealand family. It will take me a long time until I can afford the trip but going back to New Zealand is definitely up near the top of my to-do list.

  2. rramirez46 says:

    Your experience in New Zealand seems unforgettable! I enjoyed reading about your experiences and how you will want to travel back there some day. I also enjoyed how you added visuals to help people get more out of your post.

  3. dchouu says:

    This post had me self envisioning myself in New Zealand with you! I was uncertain about studying abroad but after reading about your experiences I am seriously considering studying abroad in order to experience different culture. Are you still in contact with the families that you stayed with?

    • If you want to study abroad outside of the college program, I would recommend going through the Lions Youth Exchange Program. It’s for people from the ages 16-21 and the majority of the cost is just for the plane tickets, insurance, and passport. You get to experience so much more than just the commonly known tourist sites and meet so many different people. It’s just such a great experience and I hope to go through the program again but to a different country.
      I am still in contact with 2 of the families through Facebook because the email system would not send my emails. I had tried to stay in contact with all of them put because of that error I was not able to. However, I still I see all of them as part of my extended family because of the impact they made on my experience in New Zealand. I will never forget my time there and will always treasure the memories I made.

  4. Pingback: Opportunity to Experience the World | Heritage Watch F13

  5. mgoldberg4 says:

    It was awesome reading about your experience in another country! I have always wanted to travel to New Zealand personally but have never gotten the chance. It was very enlightening and makes me want to travel there even more now!

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